Former Maryland lawmaker pleads guilty to conspiracy, bribery

Former state delegate from Prince George's pleads guilty to conspiracy, bribery.

A former Maryland state delegate has pleaded guilty to taking bribes related to his official duties, federal prosecutors announced Tuesday.

William Alberto Campos, a Democrat who represented Prince George's County in the House of Delegates for less than a year in 2015, pleaded guilty on Thursday to one count of conspiracy and one count of bribery. Details were unsealed Tuesday. He is scheduled for sentencing in April.

In a statement, Campos said he admitted to wrongdoing as soon as he was approached by investigators. He apologized for his actions and asked supporters to pray for him.

"As embarrassing and devastating as this may be, I own up to my mistakes," Campos said, though he said he was not allowed to discuss specifics of the case.

Campos said he was relieved the investigation was nearing its end.

"This process has been torturous, and I have learned so much about life and myself," he said. "I thank God for the lesson that he has taught me and will continue to teach me."

Campos, 41, served on the Prince George's County Council from 2004 until he became a delegate in 2015. He resigned from his delegate position less than nine months into his term.

"I am painfully disappointed that any member of the House of Delegates would compromise this institution and the public trust by influencing the legislative process for personal benefit," House Speaker Michael E. Busch said in a statement. "Every member of the House is elected and takes an oath to represent their constituents to the best of their ability and follow the letter and the spirit of the law. ...

"As the leader of the House of Delegates, I want to send a clear message to the citizens of this State and the members of the House: there is no room for this type of behavior in the House of Delegates."

Gov. Larry Hogan said Tuesday "there's more information to come out."

"We're not at liberty to go into details on that," he said. "It's disgusting, and we're going to have to make sure these people are held accountable for their crimes. ... Our state police have been fully involved and briefed."

According to federal prosecutors, Campos took bribes for favorable actions in his role as county councilman.

Campos received envelopes of cash from a business owner who was looking to move into the county in 2012 and 2013, according to prosecutors. In exchange, Campos awarded county grants to nonprofit organizations that were linked to the business owner. In Prince George's County, council members are given $100,000 to award to nonprofit service organizations.

At one point, an undercover FBI employee posed as a businessman hoping to expand a property management company into the county. Campos asked the undercover employee to make a campaign donation to another candidate, according to prosecutors. The undercover employee made the donation and then agreed to pay more if Campos would support the property management company's contract with a housing authority in another state.

Campos admitted to taking $21,000 to $24,000 in bribe payments from other individuals from 2011 to 2014, prosecutors said. In exchange, he awarded about $325,000 in county grants to nonprofits controlled by those individuals, prosecutors said. At sentencing, Campos faces up to five years in prison for conspiracy and 10 years in prison for bribery.

As part of his plea agreement, Campos will also be required to pay restitution of at least $340,000.

At the time he resigned from the House of Delegates, Campos cited personal reasons including a desire to start a family and the lack of a job outside his delegate position.

The guilty plea by Campos comes on the heels of multiple indictments involving the Prince George's County liquor board.

Two liquor board officials and two business owners were charged with bribery and conspiracy in a case in which prosecutors allege officials were paid to make favorable liquor license decisions.

Documents in that case indicated that a current state lawmaker, a former state lawmaker and a lobbyist participated in the scheme.

Baltimore Sun reporter Erin Cox contributed tot his article.

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